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"Seeking liberty and truth above suppression and mendacity!"
"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech," said Benjamin Franklin.
Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment. Read it then discuss it in the Forums. Find out about Donald J. Trump’s time in the white house. Donald J. Trump is a crook, a con man and liar who uses alternative facts and projects himself on to other.


Donald J. Trump Impeachment Inquiry Page 1


The Trump-Ukraine Affair shows Trump is more than willing to accept help from a foreign government, which is against the law. It also shows trump is willing do anything he has to get that help and anything he has to prevent the truth from coming out. It also shows he may have conspired with the Russians to help him win the 2016 election. Last time the lie was about adaptions this time it the lie is about corruption. Donald J. Trump is abusing the power of the presidency. Donald J. Trump has corrupted the white house, the DOJ, the state department and other government departments and agencies to protect and defend Donald J. Trump. Instead of putting America and the constitution first, they are putting Donald J. Trump first. Any government employee who puts Donald J. Trump before America and the constitution is not patriot. The oaths they have taking are to America and the constitution not to any individual. Any government employee who puts Donald J. Trump above America and the constitution is neither protecting nor defending America and the constitution. Moreover, they have broken the oath they have sworn to America and the constitution. Republicans continue to protect Trump and subvert justice while the Democrats have started an impeachment inquiry into the actions of Donald J. Trump. We know from the Mueller Investigation that Donald J. Trump committed obstruction of justice at least 10 times. Donald J. Trump is abusing the power of the presidency to make money and to prevent access to information that could show his action arise to level of impeachment. The GOP, the party of obstruction is helping protect Trump by obstructing justice to prevent the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Donald J. Trump should be impeached before he does any more damage to our country. Here you can track the impeachment of Donald J. Trump.


A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the constitution. This is the speech given by Representative Barbara Jordan (Democrat-Texas) reminding her colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee of the Constitutional basis for impeachment. The Committee met in Washington, D.C. more...

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Donald J. Trump used the powers of the presidency to bully Ukraine into digging up damaging information on a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden; that is an abuse of power and an impeachable offence, that is an abuse of power is against the law and the constitution of the United States. Donald J. Trump has corrupted the white house, the DOJ, the state department and other government departments and agencies to protect and defend Donald J. Trump. Instead of putting America first, they are putting Trump first. Anyone who is a government employee that puts Donald J. Trump before America and the constitution is not patriot. The oaths they have taking are to America and the constitution not to any individual. Anyone who puts Donald J. Trump above America and the constitution are not protecting nor defending America have broken the oath they have sworn to America and the constitution. Donald J. Trump and many in the Republican Party believe Trump is above our laws he is not. Donald J. Trump has committed abuse of power, obstruction of justice, bribery, extortion, illegal use of public monies, betrayed the public trust. Donald J. Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanors numerus times; the Trump-Ukraine Affair is just the latest example. Donald J. Trump is up to it again seeking help from a foreign government remember when Trump asked the Russians for help to get Hillary Clinton’s emails, 5 Hours later Russian hackers went after Hillary Clinton's emails, then he blamed her for seeking help from the Russians. We have heard the before remember the last cover story it was about adaptions, this time the cover story is they were trying to find out about corruption. Once again, Trump has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar and once again, he tried to place the blame on someone else as he always does, never taken the blame not matter what he does. Get informed read the information provide below to make you own determination the Trump-Ukraine Affair.

By QUINT FORGEY
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday signaled that he would attempt to comply with a subpoena from House Democrats related to their impeachment inquiry, but did not commit to honoring the order’s deadline for documents from the Pentagon. “We will do everything we can to respond to their inquiry, Chris,” Esper told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “My general counsel a week or two ago sent out a note, as we often do in these situations, to the key members in the Pentagon to say, ‘Retain your documents and institute other controls,’” he continued. “So again, we will respond as we can.” Congressional Democrats have demanded that Esper, as well as acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, produce any documents having to do with the administration’s decision over the summer to withhold military aid to Ukraine. Lawmakers are probing whether the freezing of those funds marked an effort by President Donald Trump to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into pursuing investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump pushed Zelensky to scrutinize the Bidens over unfounded allegations of corruption in a July phone call between the two leaders that lies at the heart of Democrats’ impeachment push. more...

By Kate Sullivan, CNN
Washington (CNN)The US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, is expected to tell Congress this week that President Donald Trump relayed to him directly in a phone call the content of a text message that Sondland sent denying quid pro quo, The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing a person familiar with his testimony. Sondland's text message was sent to the top US diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, who raised concerns in a text to Sondland about the US withholding nearly $400 million of US military and security aid. This text message exchange has become a major focal point of the impeachment inquiry into the President. Sondland is expected to testify to Congress that he has no knowledge of whether Trump was telling him the truth at the time, the Post reports. "It's only true that the President said it, not that it was the truth," the person familiar with Sondland's planned testimony, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic matters, told the Post. The congressional testimony by Sondland, a key witness within the State Department and to the President's action in the ongoing impeachment inquiry, could prove damaging to the President and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the Post reports. Sondland intends to testify to the House under subpoena Thursday, according to his lawyers. Sondland is a Trump donor and hotelier who has been EU ambassador since 2018. He exchanged messages with former US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and a senior US diplomat in Ukraine about setting up the call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump. He also exchanged messages about whether foreign aid was being withheld while Trump and Giuliani pushed for Ukraine to open an investigation into business activity by the son of one of the President's 2020 Democratic rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. CNN previously reported Sondland called Trump to find out what was going on after Taylor raised his concerns about the US withholding assistance, according to a source with knowledge. Trump emphatically told him no quid pro quo, the source said. "Whether (Trump)'s deciding it's getting too hot to handle and he backs off whatever his position really was a month earlier, I don't know," the person familiar with Sondland's understanding told the Post. Sondland is expected to tell Congress that for months before that text message exchange, he worked at the direction of Giuliani to secure a public statement from Ukraine that it would investigate corruption, according to the Post. In exchange for the statement, the President would grant Ukraine's new president a White House audience, the Post reported. "It was a quid pro quo, but not a corrupt one," the person familiar with Sondland's testimony told the Post. more...

Testimony, subpoenas, a refusal to cooperate: Here's a look at this week's developments in the Trump impeachment probe.
by William Roberts
Washington, DC - Friday marked Day 18 of the US House of Representatives impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, and despite Congress being in recess, the investigation escalated quickly this week with some major developments. House Democrats launched the inquiry in late September following reports of a whistle-blower complaint that alleged Trump abused his presidential powers and sought help from a foreign government in investigating a political opponent. The complaint, which has since been made public, centred on a summer phone call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky. According to the White House log of the call, Trump asked for help investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic frontrunner, and his son. In the weeks before the call, Trump ordered the freeze of hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid to Ukraine, prompting speculation the US president was using the money as leverage. Trump maintains he has done nothing wrong and has labelled the inquiry "witch-hunt garbage". There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. Since its launch, the impeachment inquiry has moved rapidly as House investigators work to determine whether they will recommend articles of impeachment against the president. From testimony to fresh subpoenas and a refusal to cooperate, here are 10 things from the impeachment inquiry you may have missed this week. more...

By Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade
Several key players in the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump were the strongest proponents of Republicans’ iron-fisted oversight of the Obama administration, culminating in a two-year House probe into the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Now, faced with a politically charged investigation into a president of their own party, they have dropped their formerly stout defense of congressional prerogatives and have joined Trump in endorsing a campaign of massive resistance to the impeachment probe — a turnabout that has left many Democrats and even some Republicans aghast. Among those who participated in the select committee that probed the attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya were Mike Pompeo, then a Kansas congressman and now secretary of state and a key target of the current Democratic investigation, and Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), who is the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee. The panel’s chairman, then-Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.), who has since left Congress, was poised to serve as an outside lawyer for Trump. The president said Thursday that Gowdy would have to wait until January to start due to lobbying rules. “The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong,” Gowdy said in 2012, as a House panel moved to hold then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for failing to cooperate with its probe of a botched gunrunning operation. “Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles.” Gowdy did not respond to requests for comment but criticized the House investigation last week in Fox News Channel appearances — calling its leader, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), “deeply partisan” and accusing him of leaking information “like a sieve.” In a 2016 addendum to the House Benghazi probe’s findings, Pompeo and Jordan thrashed Democrats, saying they “showed little interest in seeking the truth” and “spent the bulk of their time trying to discredit the Republican-led committee and leveling baseless personal attacks.” But in past weeks, the two have used similar tactics to undermine the House impeachment probe by, in Pompeo’s case, accusing Democrats of “bullying and intimidating State Department employees” in justifying a decision to block testimony and, in Jordan’s case, accusing the probe’s leader of misconduct and disqualifying political bias. “There is obviously a massive hypocrisy here,” said Jen Psaki, an Obama administration veteran who served as State Department spokeswoman during the Benghazi probe. Pompeo, she added, “was one of the ringleaders of a massive political circus around Benghazi; he was responsible for dragging countless Foreign Service officers, civil servants — people who had been serving Democrats and Republicans for decades — in front of Congress, through the mud. Now he’s claiming that he’s defending the institution? That irony is not lost.” more...

The first two officials who came forward about the president’s pressure campaign on Ukraine seem to be just the beginning, according to Hill sources.
By Spencer Ackerman, Sam Brodey, Sam Stein - the daily beast
New potential whistleblowers are coming forward to the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, two congressional sources tell The Daily Beast. They seem to be emboldened by the actions of the whistleblower whose explosive account of President Donald Trump’s phone call to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky about investigating Trump’s domestic political rivals ignited the impeachment inquiry. Another whistleblower is known to have come forward. Congressional investigators are currently vetting the new accounts they’ve received for credibility. Accordingly, knowledgeable sources would not discuss where in the government these new would-be whistleblowers come from, nor what they purport to have to say. It’s also unknown if their accounts are as significant as that of the intelligence whistleblower whose alarm over President Trump’s July 25 phone call sparked the impeachment probe. Investigators often encounter cranks as well as those with genuine knowledge of wrongdoing. Nor is it clear if these new ostensible whistleblowers have contacted any inspectors general, as the original two whistleblowers did. “There are clearly numerous whistleblowers out there and many people who possess firsthand relevant information who could come forward, and I expect some will,” said attorney Mark Zaid, who represents those two whistleblowers (and also represents The Daily Beast in freedom-of-information lawsuits). more...

By benjamin siegel, katherine faulders and conor finnegan
The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine has told House investigators that she was “incredulous” that she was removed based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” according to her reported prepared remarks at her deposition Friday before three House committees as part of their impeachment investigation. Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled in the spring, said she was told President Donald Trump pressured the State Department to remove her based on allegations by associates of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. "Contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine,” she said, according to her opening statement reported by The New York Times and other news outlets. The Times posted the statement although it's not clear how much Yovanovitch read from it. Yovanovitch said, after being told in late April that she needed to leave immediately -- "to be on the next plane" -- she met with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. "He said that the President had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the President to remove me since the Summer of 2018," according to the remarks. "He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause." "Equally fictitious is the notion that I am disloyal to President Trump," she said. "Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the President, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an Ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives," she said in the statement. "To make matters worse, all of this occurred during an especially challenging time in bilateral relations with a newly elected Ukrainian president. This was precisely the time when continuity in the Embassy in Ukraine was most needed." Yovanovitch , arrived on Capitol Hill earlier Friday surrounded by news cameras for the closed-door deposition with House committees looking into whether President Trump committed impeachable offenses in asking a foreign country to investigate his political rivals, according to multiple congressional officials with knowledge of the probe. more...

By Steven A. Cash
The Congress is now investigating various facets of the president’s political, business, and personal affairs, all in the context of impeachment. I suggest that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) consider looking to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) as an organizing principle, and way to articulate why impeachment is moving forward, and how it can be framed. There is impassioned discussion (at least among Democrats) about what the focus of impeachment should be: a sharp focus on Ukraine, or a wider approach which encompasses the myriad potential “high crimes and misdemeanors” which the president may have committed: Ukraine extortion or bribery, Moscow building projects, contacts with Russian diplomats, the various wrongdoings of Trump foundation, accepting funds in the context of hotels throughout the world in exchange for policy change; funds spent on the inauguration, the use of undocumented workers at Trump properties… the list goes on and on. But perhaps the Congress (and the public), like the fabled blind men touching an elephant, are actually looking at various parts of a single whole. We have a set of laws for such a situation, and we should be thinking about them now: RICO. RICO provides powerful criminal penalties for persons who engage in a “pattern of racketeering activity” and who have a specified relationship to an “enterprise” that affects interstate or foreign commerce. Under the RICO statute, “racketeering activity” includes state offenses such as murder, robbery, extortion, and several other serious offenses, punishable by imprisonment for more than one year, and more than 100 serious federal offenses including extortion, interstate theft, narcotics violations, mail fraud fraud, securities fraud, currency reporting violations, certain immigration offenses, and terrorism related offenses. A “pattern” may be comprised of any combination of two or more of these state or federal crimes committed within a statutorily prescribed time period. The basic thrust of RICO is to address situations where the enterprise takes on a criminal life of its own. Although usually associated with organized crime (what the FBI used to call “La Cosa Nostra”), it has been used, with great success in a variety of situations. Rudy Giuliani, of course, the the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York was the great pioneer of the use of RICO. Why is RICO a good framework to think about Trump? RICO was originally conceived to recognize (in the economic sphere) that organization crime was particularly significant. Congress said: “What is needed here . . . are new approaches that will deal not only with individuals, but also with the economic base through which those individuals constitute such a serious threat to the economic well-being of the Nation. In short, an attack must be made on their source of economic power itself, and the attack must take place on all available fronts.” more...

By Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe
At least four national security officials were so alarmed by the Trump administration’s attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes that they raised concerns with a White House lawyer both before and immediately after President Trump’s July 25 call with that country’s president, according to U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matter. The nature and timing of the previously undisclosed discussions with National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg indicate that officials were delivering warnings through official White House channels earlier than previously understood — including before the call that precipitated a whistleblower complaint and the impeachment inquiry of the president. At the time, the officials were unnerved by the removal in May of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; subsequent efforts by Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to promote Ukraine-related conspiracies; as well as signals in meetings at the White House that Trump wanted the new government in Kiev to deliver material that might be politically damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Those concerns soared in the call’s aftermath, officials said. Within minutes, senior officials including national security adviser John Bolton were being pinged by subordinates about problems with what the president had said to his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. Bolton and others scrambled to obtain a rough transcript that was already being “locked down” on a highly classified computer network. “When people were listening to this in real time there were significant concerns about what was going on — alarm bells were kind of ringing,” said one person familiar with the sequence of events inside the White House, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. “People were trying to figure out what to do, how to get a grasp on the situation.” It is unclear whether some or all of the officials who complained to Eisenberg are also the ones who later spoke to the whistleblower. The accounts are sharply at odds with Trump’s depiction of the call as a “perfect” exchange in which he “did nothing wrong,” despite appearing to link U.S. support for Ukraine to that country’s willingness to investigate the family of the former vice president. On Thursday, Trump renewed his attacks on Twitter, describing the impeachment inquiry as a “Democrat Scam.” But new details about the sequence inside the White House suggest that concerns about the call and events leading up to it were profound even among Trump’s top advisers, including Bolton and then-acting deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman. Bolton and Kupperman did not respond to requests for comment. Officials said that within hours of the 9 a.m. conversation, a rough transcript compiled by aides had been moved from a widely shared White House computer network to one normally reserved for highly classified intelligence operations. According to the whistleblower’s complaint, White House lawyers “directed” officials to move the transcript to the classified system. At the same time, officials were seeking ways to report what they had witnessed, an undertaking complicated by the lack of a White House equivalent to the inspector general positions found at other agencies. more...

By Christal Hayes, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Energy Secretary Rick Perry became the latest member of President Donald Trump's cabinet to be subpoenaed by House Democrats in the rapidly escalating impeachment inquiry. Perry on Thursday was subpoenaed by the three House committees — Oversight, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs — leading the investigation into whether Trump abused his power by pushing Ukraine to investigate political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden. The subpoena demands a number of documents pertaining to Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which the president pushed for a Biden investigation, and Perry's potential role in reinforcing that request during a trip to Ukraine. The committees gave until Oct. 18. The subpoena also demands documents detailing Perry's role, outlined in news reports, in changing the management structure at a Ukrainian energy company, a move that may hold benefits for officials working with Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. "Recently, public reports have raised questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the President’s stark message to the Ukrainian President," the chairmen of the committees wrote in the subpoena. They continued: "These reports have also raised significant questions about your efforts to press Ukrainian officials to change the management structure at a Ukrainian state-owned energy company to benefit individuals involved with Rudy Giuliani’s push to get Ukrainian officials to interfere in our 2020 election." Perry first became wrapped up in the impeachment inquiry when he was mentioned in the anonymous whistleblower complaint, which brought Trump's call with the Ukrainian president to light. In mid-May, the whistleblower learned from U.S. officials, Trump instructed Vice President Mike Pence to cancel his plans to attend Zelensky’s May 20 inauguration. Perry went instead. more...

By Caroline Kelly
(CNN) - George Conway, husband to White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, slammed the White House's letter refusing to cooperate in House Democrats' impeachment inquiry as "an excuse to prevent evidence, damning evidence, from reaching the public."
"This was trash," Conway said to former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and CNN senior legal analyst Preet Bharara that was recorded for Bharara's "Stay Tuned with Preet" podcast airing Thursday and shared in advance by Bharara on CNN Wednesday ngiht. "The thrust of (the letter) is that there are some kind of constitutional obligations that the House has failed to meet that therefore render its impeachment inquiry illegitimate and unconstitutional, which is complete nonsense, because all the Constitution says is that the House has the sole power over impeachment," he added. The accusation from Conway -- a vocal conservative lawyer who's often at odds with his wife's boss, President Donald Trump -- come as the White House looks to put pressure on House Democrats for choosing not to hold a vote to authorize a formal impeachment inquiry. A vote is not officially needed because the Democratic caucus already has more legal authority compared to past impeachment inquiries. more...

By Justin Wise
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday said his government would "happily" open an investigation into potential interference from Ukraine in the 2016 U.S. election. The comments from Zelensky come more than two months after Trump asked the foreign president to look into matters related to Ukraine and the U.S. election during a phone call between the two leaders. The phone call is at the center of a whistleblower complaint that prompted an impeachment inquiry in the House. Speaking to reporters, Zelensky said Ukraine could not make a determination on whether it was involved in election interference without an investigation, according to The Associated Press. There is no evidence that suggests Ukraine committed any interference during the 2016 U.S. election. The U.S. intelligence community found that Russia sought to interfere in the election to hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign and to help Trump. Tom Bossert, a former Homeland Security adviser in the Trump administration, said last month that the assertion that Ukraine was responsible for the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was a "conspiracy theory" that has been "completely debunked." He added in an interview with ABC that he communicated this point to Trump while working in the administration. Bossert also blamed Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and other officials for pushing the theory. "At this point, I am deeply frustrated with what [Giuliani] and the legal team are doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president," Bossert said. "It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again, and for clarity let me just repeat that it has no validity." Giuliani has pushed back hard at Bossert, saying he doesn't know what he's talking about. During a July 25 phone call with Zelensky, Trump called on the Ukrainian president to look into matters related to CrowdStrike — a U.S.-based internet security company that initially examined the breach of the DNC servers in 2016 — after the Ukrainian leader asked about buying U.S. anti-tank missiles. "I would like you to do us a favor though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it," Trump said, according to a White House memorandum of the call. CrowdStrike determined in 2016 that Russian agents broke into the DNC's network and stole emails that were later released by WikiLeaks. Trump's broad effort to pressure Ukraine into investigating 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son prompted House Democrats to launch a formal impeachment inquiry last month. more...

By Jeremy Stahl
The White House efforts to obstruct Congress’ impeachment investigation reached new and dramatic heights both on the Hill and in federal court on Tuesday. In a story that garnered widespread attention, the State Department in the morning blocked a critical witness in Congress’ impeachment inquiry from testifying about President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and potentially tie critical military aid to those investigations. Meanwhile, in a less-noticed federal court hearing later in the day, the Department of Justice sought to block the release of the remaining redacted materials of the Mueller report and underlying evidence from Congress, arguing that if Watergate happened today, it would be able to prevent the release of grand jury evidence to Congress and the public. To keep the evidence from Congress, the Justice Department is seeking to overturn a critical Nixon-era case that allowed the Watergate grand jury to turn over evidence to congressional investigators as part of an impeachment inquiry. The government’s “extraordinary position” made Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the District Court for the District of Columbia say, “Wow.” The exasperated moment came as part of a hearing on the House Judiciary Committee’s request for Howell to issue an order commanding the DOJ to turn over the remaining redacted portions of the Mueller report along with critical underlying evidence. The precedent in question rests on the 1974 case Haldeman v. Sirica. In March 1974, shortly after Congress initiated its impeachment inquiry of President Richard Nixon, then-Chief Judge John Sirica, ordered materials from the Watergate grand jury turned over to Congress in what would come to be known as the “Watergate road map” for impeachment. Defendants accused of and eventually convicted for trying to cover up Watergate argued that Rule 6(E) of the federal code governing grand juries, which lays out limited exceptions that allow the disclosure of grand jury materials, prevented the release. Sirica ruled that an impeachment, as a judicial proceeding, qualified as one of those exceptions and thus the materials had to be released to Congress. more... - Barr is protecting Trump.

By CNN
(CNN) - In the White House's letter to congressional Democrats, President Donald Trump's lawyers say the President and his administration won't cooperate in an ongoing impeachment inquiry, arguing the proceedings amount to an illegitimate effort to overturn the 2016 election results. more...

By Richard Cowan, David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Tuesday it would refuse to cooperate with a “baseless, unconstitutional” congressional impeachment inquiry, setting Republican President Donald Trump on a collision course with the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives. In a letter to House Democratic leaders, White House lawyer Pat Cipollone cited in part the decision by lawmakers to proceed without a full vote of the House of Representatives. “You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process,” he said, adding House Democrats had left Trump “no choice.” “In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances,” he said. The letter came shortly after the Trump administration abruptly blocked a key witness in the Ukraine scandal from appearing before a congressional impeachment inquiry. The U.S. State Department said the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, a Trump political donor, would not be allowed to appear, even though he had already flown from Europe to do so. Trump decried the Democratic-led inquiry into whether he abused his office in the pursuit of personal political gain as a “kangaroo court.” Democratic lawmakers denounced the effort to block Sondland’s testimony, calling it an attempt to obstruct their inquiry and said they would subpoena Sondland, to compel him to submit to questions. The State Department did not respond to requests for comment on why Sondland had been blocked from speaking to lawmakers just hours before his scheduled appearance. The move and subsequent letter were the White House’s most aggressive responses yet to the inquiry, which has cast a pall over Trump’s campaign to win back the White House in 2020. A whistleblower complaint about a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, prompted the inquiry. more...

By DARREN SAMUELSOHN
A federal judge signaled Tuesday that she might give House Democrats access to some of Robert Mueller’s remaining secrets. During a two-plus hour hearing, Beryl Howell, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court, pointedly challenged the Justice Department to explain its “extraordinary position” of trying to block lawmakers from seeing the special counsel’s grand jury materials, which include testimony and evidence that has been kept private since the Mueller probe ended in March. Grand jury material is protected by law, but judges can release information under special circumstances. If Howell ultimately rules in Democrats’ favor, it would represent a major legal victory for them that could help expand Congress’s impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. While the probe initially started earlier this year with a broader focus on Mueller’s findings, the Democrats in recent weeks have homed in on the president’s alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his family. Howell on Tuesday said that under both Supreme Court and federal appellate court precedent, she must give “enormous deference” to House Democrats and their interest in the grand jury materials because of their impeachment inquiry. She even indicated that the impeachment probe was a precursor for releasing the Mueller materials. The judge, an appointee of President Barack Obama, didn’t issue an opinion Tuesday in the Democrats’ three-month lawsuit, but her comments offered the House a glimmer of hope that it may still get to see several blacked-out words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs and entire pages from the report Mueller released in April summarizing his probe. During Tuesday’s hearing, the top lawyer for the Democrats told Howell that the House impeachment inquiry still includes issues tied to the Mueller probe and hasn’t just been whittled down to Trump’s efforts to pressure the president of Ukraine into launching investigations of his political opponents. "I can't emphasize enough — it’s not just Ukraine," House counsel Doug Letter said, adding that the Judiciary Committee "could easily" adopt articles of impeachment against Trump that deal with the Mueller-related themes of obstruction of justice and election interference. House Democrats filed their initial lawsuit seeking the Mueller grand jury materials in late July, arguing that they need to peer behind hundreds of redactions from Mueller’s nearly 450-page report to help them determine whether Trump and other key witnesses have been telling the truth in their sworn testimony. One example Letter gave Tuesday was the president’s public statements claiming that his former top White House lawyer, Don McGahn, lied to Mueller’s investigators. If the Democrats determine Trump wasn’t telling the truth, it could end up being another impeachment article against him, Letter said. more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
(CNN) - Washington's impeachment battle over President Donald Trump's conduct with Ukraine is intensifying with news of a second whistleblower while new testimony this week brings the prospect of more stunning revelations to deepen the crisis. Yet nearly all Republicans, taking advantage of a congressional recess, are staying silent despite more and more evidence that the President used his power to pressure a foreign nation for personal political gain. Most of the few Republicans who have broken cover are struggling to come up with a logical defense of the President's actions — but his grip on the GOP is evident in the unwillingness of most to criticize him. And the President's assault on former GOP nominee and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney -- who he branded as a "pompous 'ass'" is underscoring the price Republicans will pay for rebuking the commander in chief. Trump is meanwhile hyping rallies this week in Minnesota and Louisiana that are likely to stress his powerful support among his base and will hike new pressure on any wavering Republicans before most of them return to Washington next week. The weekend's political exchanges suggested that despite a week of barely believable drama, Trump's feverish efforts are having some success in stopping any serious slippage in support among Republican lawmakers, especially ahead of any eventual Senate impeachment trial. But recent developments also sharpen the core questions at stake in the impeachment saga that are critical to the office of the presidency going forward and US democracy itself. Given the evidence that is already public, the question is becoming — is it permissible for a President to use his power, sometimes even in public — to pressure foreign governments to investigate political opponents before an election? There is a sense that the history with which future generations will judge today's leaders is being written every day. more...

By JAKE SHERMAN, ANNA PALMER, GARRETT ROSS and ELI OKUN
MAYBE SO, MAYBE NOT!, SYRIA EDITION: SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA.) to Sarah Ferris today in a quiet Capitol about President DONALD TRUMP’S plan to pull out of Syria: “I understand he’s reconsidering. I do not think we should abandon the Kurds.” IF YOU LISTEN TO THE WHITE HOUSE, and the parade of people who say they are close to TRUMP, the president does not want to be impeached, because he sees it as a stain on his legacy. BUT, at this point, the Republicans’ strategy is actually making it more likely the president will swiftly be impeached in the House -- though a conviction in the Senate is, of course, another story. AFTER U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. David Sondland was blocked by the Trump administration from testifying on Capitol Hill (read Kyle Cheney), House Intel Chairman ADAM SCHIFF (D-Calif.) said this: “the failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress. A co-equal branch of government.” IN OTHER WORDS: Democrats feel like they can ring TRUMP up right now on charges that he is directing his administration to block Congress. TRUMP’S reason for blocking testimony and document production is that he doesn’t like the process Democrats are using -- a function of Democrats being in the majority. BUT … IF REPUBLICANS HAVE SUCCEEDED in anything in this impeachment process, it’s this: They have forced everyone to talk about process, not substance. REPUBLICANS WHO ARE TAKING THE LEAD in defending TRUMP say the reason the president won’t hand over witnesses is because Schiff’s process is akin to a kangaroo court. Democrats are being forced onto procedural grounds because of the president’s blocking of Sondland. “WE UNDERSTAND THE REASON why the State Department decided not to have Ambassador Sondland appear today,” Rep. JIM JORDAN (R-Ohio) said this morning. “It’s based on the unfair and partisan process that Mr. Schiff has been running. You think about what the Democrats are trying to do: impeach the president of the United States 13 months prior to an election based on an anonymous whistleblower with no first-hand knowledge who has a bias against the president.” -- KEEPING TRACK: The president had this team defending him today in the Capitol: Reps. Mark Meadows (N.C.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Lee Zeldin (N.Y.). They answered questions. Schiff spoke to reporters, and didn’t answer questions this time. THE DANGER FOR THE PRESIDENT … NOT WHAT THE NRCC’S TOUTING! -- WAPO’S DAN BALZ and SCOTT CLEMENT: “Poll: Majority of Americans say they endorse opening of House impeachment inquiry of Trump”: “The poll finds that, by a margin of 58 percent to 38 percent, Americans say the House was correct to undertake the inquiry. Among all adults, 49 percent say the House should take the more significant step to impeach the president and call for his removal from office. Another 6 percent say they back the start of the inquiry but do not favor removing Trump from office, with the remainder undecided about the president’s ultimate fate. The results among registered voters are almost identical. … more...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - Less than an hour before he was scheduled to testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday regarding his role in the pressure campaign against Ukraine, the State Department banned US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland from appearing before the committee. "Ambassador Sondland is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify today," said the ambassador's lawyer in a statement. "Ambassador Sondland hopes that the issues raised by the State Department that preclude his testimony will be resolved promptly." That last-minute decision by the State Department seems directly at odds with President Donald Trump's repeated insistence that his phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was "perfect" and that he retained the "absolute right" to ask foreign countries to investigate corruption. If Trump -- and, by extension, his State Department -- are completely certain they were acting appropriately, why keep Sondland from testifying to that effect? If there is truly nothing to hide here and everything that Trump and his people did was "perfect," why not let Sondland tell that story? Could it be that Sondland, in several text exchanges with former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, who testified before the Intelligence Committee last week, seems to resist putting anything other than Trump talking points in writing when questioned about whether there was an unstated quid pro quo to force Ukraine to open an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter? Remember this text exchange from early September between Sondland and Bill Taylor, a US diplomat in Ukraine: Taylor: Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations? Sondland: Call me. Did Taylor call? What did Sondland say to him on that call? What was Taylor's reaction? Was he convinced that there was no aid-for-investigation deal? If so, what convinced him? Those are just a few of the important questions Sondland would have had to answer in his testimony today. And again, if the administration believes -- truly believes -- it has nothing to hide, then why not let Sondland talk? If nothing was wrong and more transparency will show how "perfect" Trump's handling of the Zelensky call truly was, then why not shine as bright a light as possible on Sondland's actions? (Sidebar: This is the exact same argument I made when Trump debated for months whether or not to sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller. If you have nothing at all to hide, it is in your best interest to get all the facts out and answer every possible question, right? Right!) more...

By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday from the House Judiciary Committee, which is demanding the grand jury evidence behind special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The panel subpoenaed the evidence as part of the wide-ranging impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, who calls the inquiry a partisan witch hunt. The Judiciary Committee is focusing on potential obstruction of justice, as described in 10 episodes in the Mueller report. But Attorney General William Barr redacted grand jury evidence from the report and argued against disclosing it under the subpoena. U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell, chief judge for the D.C. district who oversees the grand jury, is hearing the case. Her ruling could resolve a key dispute about the status of the House's investigation of Trump. Six committees have been conducting investigations of Trump since Democrats regained control of the chamber in January. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Sept. 24 that all of the inquiries now fall under the umbrella of a formal impeachment investigation and that no floor vote is necessary. But Republicans have argued that only the full House can authorize an impeachment inquiry. Mueller’s 22-month investigation found no conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia, despite that country's sweeping and systematic effort to influence the 2016 election. But the report released in April outlined potential obstruction when Trump tried to thwart the special counsel inquiry and have Mueller removed. Mueller made no decision about whether to charge Trump with obstruction because Justice Department policy forbids charging a president while in office. The Judiciary Committee subpoenaed grand jury evidence to explore Trump’s knowledge of Russian efforts to interfere in the election, the president’s knowledge of potential criminal acts by his campaign or administration, and actions taken by former White House counsel Don McGahn. The Mueller report described episodes when Trump directed McGahn to remove the special counsel, which McGahn ignored. “The full Mueller report provides an essential roadmap for the committee’s efforts to uncover all facts relevant to Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential election and to any attempts by the president to prevent Congress from learning the truth about those attacks along with their aftermath,” said the legal filing by Douglas Letter, general counsel for the House. “The committee’s interest in obtaining a limited disclosure of these materials far outweighs any interests in secrecy.” The House included a 1974 letter from the Watergate era as an exhibit. Rep. Peter Rodino, D-N.Y., who was then head of the Judiciary Committee, wrote to U.S. District Court Judge John Sirica asking for grand jury materials in the investigation of President Richard Nixon. Rodino cited a House vote of 410-4 to authorize an impeachment investigation. The Justice Department has argued against releasing the grand jury evidence behind Mueller's report. In a written filing, the department said a “minuscule” 0.1% of the report dealing with potential obstruction of justice was redacted. And the department said releasing the evidence could hurt pending cases that grew out of the Mueller investigation. more...

By Emily Tillett, Kathryn Watson, Stefan Becket, Grace Segers
Washington -- U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who was scheduled to be interviewed by Congress Tuesday as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, was ordered not to appear for his deposition by the the State Department, according to a statement issued by his attorney. Sondland was mentioned in the original whistleblower complaint and a key witness to the Trump-Ukraine dealings. Sondland's lawyer, Robert Luskin said in the statement that Sondland "is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify today" and went on to say that the ambassador had traveled from Brussels for the testimony and made arrangements with the Joint Committee staff to appear. Sondland "believes strongly that he acted at all times in the best interests of the United States" and remains ready to testify "on short notice," Luskin said. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters on Tuesday that Sondland was in possession of documents on his "personal device" related to Ukraine which the State Department is withholding from the committee. "The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress," Schiff said. Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee is considering "extraordinary moves" to protect the whistleblower's identity in a still-unscheduled upcoming interview, according to one lawmaker. "We have to take all precautions, because we cannot burn his or her identity," Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi told CBS News. The potential measures -- including obscuring the whistleblower's appearance and voice -- were first reported by The Washington Post on Monday. more...


















By KATE FELDMAN and Shant Shahrigian - New York Daily News
“Multiple” whistleblowers have come forward about President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, said a lawyer for the original whistleblower who set off the case roiling the nation. “I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General. No further comment at this time,” attorney Andrew Bakaj tweeted Sunday. One of the new whistleblowers was described as an intelligence official with “first-hand knowledge” of some of the allegations in the original complaint, which said Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to work with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr on digging up dirt about Biden, the leading Democratic presidential candidate. Attorney Mark Zaid told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that the new whistleblower has spoken with the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, That could help shut down Trump’s efforts to discredit the original whistleblower. The president has tried to depict the complaint as unreliable since it was based on second-hand accounts of Trump’s conduct. House Democrats have been moving full speed ahead with impeachment proceedings, demanding documents from a combative White House since Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the inquiry Sept. 24. Trump has been on an off-the-rails rampage, suggesting that leading Dems are in fact the ones guilty of treason and trying to discredit the veracity of the whistleblower’s complaint. more...

By JOSH GERSTEIN
A federal judge has ordered the White House to preserve a wide range of evidence about President Donald Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders, including his interactions related to Ukraine that have fueled an impeachment investigation in the House. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued the order Thursday, directing that White House officials not destroy records of “meetings, phone calls, and other communications with foreign leaders.” The judge’s order also appears to specifically address reports that the Trump White House set up a special system to limit access to certain records of presidential conversations with foreign leaders. Jackson, an appointee of President Barack Obama, instructed the White House to preserve “all records of efforts by White House or other executive branch officials to return, ‘claw back,’ ’lock down’ or recall White House records” about dealings with foreign officials. The order came in a lawsuit filed in May by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, as well as two history-focused organizations: the National Security Archive and the Society for the History of American Foreign Relations. The suit alleged that the White House was failing to maintain and putting at risk records of presidential actions required to be documented by the Presidential Records Act. While the suit predated the Ukraine controversy, lawyers pressing the case asked Jackson on Tuesday for a temporary restraining order, citing reports that records of Trump’s phone calls with the president of Ukraine and some other leaders had been removed from the usual database at the White House and moved to another one not typically used for those calls. Justice Department lawyers said in a court filing Wednesday that the White House had already taken steps to secure many of the records the plaintiffs expressed concern about. The filing also suggested that in response to the request for a restraining order, White House lawyers broadened an existing instruction to preserve records of Trump’s foreign interactions. more...

By MELANIE ZANONA, BEN SCHRECKINGER, JOSH GERSTEIN and HEATHER CAYGLE
Another week, and the impeachment drama increases. The latest developments — from diplomatic text messages to presidential tweets — could leave even the most dialed-in politico’s head spinning. We asked four reporters who have been covering Trump’s presidency and the investigations to share their thoughts on where we are and where we’re going. Where are congressional Republicans and are there any signs of cracks in Trump’s firewall of support? Melanie Zanona, Congress reporter: I don’t expect to see a GOP jail break — at least not yet. Only a few Republicans have spoken out publicly against Trump, but it’s mostly the usual Trump critics or retiring members. Most Republicans are just keeping their heads down and waiting to see what else comes out and how it plays back home. I suspect we’ll have a better sense of where the GOP conference stands after the recess. Ben Schreckinger, national political correspondent: Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse have both criticized Trump for calling on China to investigate the Bidens. But they are part of the same small group of Republican senators who have been willing to take on Trump all along. Marco Rubio, a China hawk, has declined to call out Trump for it. It does not seem like his firewall is breaking in the Senate, which is all that will matter if he is impeached.  Josh Gerstein, legal affairs contributor: I don’t see Trump’s wall of support collapsing, but a few bricks do seem to be jostling loose. I was struck this week by some commentators who almost always align themselves with the president, openly criticizing him over the Ukraine episode. “Donald Trump should not have been on the phone with a foreign head of state encouraging another country to investigate his political opponent Joe Biden. … There's no way to spin this as a good idea,” Fox host Tucker Carlson and Daily Caller publisher Neil Patel wrote. They went on to say Trump’s infraction didn’t merit impeachment, but any disagreement from Trump’s Amen chorus must get under his skin given his repeated insistence that the call was “perfect.” Heather Caygle, Congress reporter: Republicans left the closed-door House intelligence committee hearing Friday seeking to deflect criticism of the president onto Adam Schiff, the Democrat who heads it. Republicans are attacking Schiff more than defending Trump, accusing the Intel chairman of helping orchestrate the allegations. It’s been easier for Republicans to stay quiet, in part, due to the congressional recess — a two-week break where most members are away from the Capitol and its press corps. more...

By james gordon meek and anne flaherty
Mark Zaid, the attorney representing the whistleblower who sounded the alarm on President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine and triggered an impeachment inquiry, tells ABC News that he is now representing a second whistleblower who has spoken with the inspector general. Zaid tells ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that the second person -- also described as an intelligence official -- has first-hand knowledge of some of the allegations outlined in the original complaint and has been interviewed by the head of the intelligence community's internal watchdog office, Michael Atkinson. The existence of a second whistleblower -- particularly one who can speak directly about events involving the president related to conversations involving Ukraine -- could undercut Trump's repeated insistence that the original complaint, released on Sept. 26, was "totally inaccurate." That original seven-page complaint alleged that Trump pushed a foreign power to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, and Biden's son, Hunter, and that unnamed senior White House officials then tried to "lock down" all records of the phone call. "This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call," the first whistleblower stated, in a complaint filed Aug. 12. Zaid says both officials have full protection of the law intended to protect whistleblowers from being fired in retaliation. While this second official has spoken with the IG -- the internal watchdog office created to handle complaints -- this person has not communicated yet with the congressional committees conducting the investigation. The New York Times on Friday cited anonymous sources in reporting that a second intelligence official was weighing whether to file his own formal complaint and testify to Congress. Zaid says he does not know if the second whistleblower he represents is the person identified in the Times report. Zaid’s co-counsel, Andrew Bakaj, confirmed in a tweet Sunday that the firm is representing "multiple whistleblowers." Zaid later confirmed in a tweet that two are being represented by their legal team. According to the first whistleblower, more than a half a dozen U.S. officials have information relevant to the investigation -- suggesting the probe could widen even further. more...

The department is reeling from daily revelations in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, according to former senior officials.
Ben Fox, Matthew Lee and Lolita C. Baldor
WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department has been deeply shaken by the rapidly escalating impeachment inquiry, as revelations that President Donald Trump enlisted diplomats to dig up dirt on a political rival threaten to tarnish its reputation as a nonpartisan arm of U.S. foreign policy, former senior officials said Friday. A department where morale was already low under a president who, at times, has seemed hostile to its mission is now reeling from days of disclosures that place it at the center of an escalating political scandal, say former diplomats who fear that the turmoil will damage American foreign policy objectives around the world. “This has just been a devastating three years for the Department of State,” said Heather Conley, a senior policy adviser at State under President George W. Bush. “You can just feel there is a sense of disbelief. They don’t know who will be subpoenaed next.” The first blow was the release of a rough transcript of the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which the American president pressed for an investigation of the son of former Vice President Joe Biden. In the call, the president also disparaged the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who was removed from her post in May amid a campaign coordinated by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Thursday saw the release of text messages between Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker and two senior diplomats as they scrambled to accommodate Giuliani’s campaign to leverage American support for Ukraine in a search for potential political dirt. “This is only the latest in a large number of very damaging things that have been done to the State Department,” said Thomas Pickering, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Russia under President George H.W. Bush. “It represents a new low in basically ignoring and indeed punishing the people who have made a professional commitment to the country and Constitution.” more...

By Editorial Board
THE ROUGH transcript of President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky prompted a debate about whether, in pressing for politicized investigations of alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and of Joe Biden, Mr. Trump dangled rewards for Mr. Zelensky as a quid pro quo. In our view, the transcript contained at least a hint that Mr. Trump was linking the “favor” he wanted to arms sales, and clear evidence that he was tying it to a White House invitation. That conclusion is now confirmed. Text messages among U.S. diplomats and a Ukrainian official released by House committees definitively show that not only did the Trump administration seek to extract Ukrainian promises of political probes in exchange for a summit meeting, but also they spent weeks negotiating the deal both before and after the Trump-Zelensky phone call. There was no lack of clarity on either side. “Heard from the White House,” U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker texted a top aide to Mr. Zelensky on July 25, just ahead of the call. “Assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/ ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for a visit to Washington.” There was no lack of clarity on either side. “Heard from the White House,” U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker texted a top aide to Mr. Zelensky on July 25, just ahead of the call. “Assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/ ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for a visit to Washington.” About two weeks later, amid negotiations over what, exactly, Mr. Zelensky would say in publicly announcing the probes, the aide, Andrey Yermak, texted Mr. Volker: “I think it’s possible to make this declaration and mention all these things. . . . But it will be logic to do after we receive a confirmation of date.” In the end, the deal did not go through. Instead, the record shows that Mr. Trump and his retainers kept raising their demands, like a casino developer squeezing a plumbing contractor. Mr. Zelensky was supposed to get his meeting date after promising the investigations in the July 25 phone call. Instead, the Ukrainians were told Mr. Zelensky needed to make a public statement committing to the probes. Mr. Volker told Congress Thursday that when the Ukrainians then offered a general statement about fighting corruption, it was rejected by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said Mr. Zelensky had to refer specifically to allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and to the gas company that employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter. In the end, the Ukrainians — to their credit — refused. more...

The official, a member of the intelligence community, was interviewed by the inspector general to corroborate the original whistle-blower’s account.
By Michael S. Schmidt and Adam Goldman
WASHINGTON — A second intelligence official who was alarmed by President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine is weighing whether to file his own formal whistle-blower complaint and testify to Congress, according to two people briefed on the matter. The official has more direct information about the events than the first whistle-blower, whose complaint that Mr. Trump was using his power to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals touched off an impeachment inquiry. The second official is among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistle-blower, one of the people said. The inspector general, Michael Atkinson, briefed lawmakers privately on Friday about how he substantiated the whistle-blower’s account. It was not clear whether he told lawmakers that the second official was considering filing a complaint. more...

The former US special representative for Ukraine testified behind closed doors Thursday.
By Andrew Prokop
Kurt Volker — the former US special representative to Ukraine, who resigned last week amid the whistleblower scandal — became the first witness to testify in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Thursday. Volker’s testimony took place behind closed doors, so we don’t yet have a full transcript. But now, multiple media outlets have published his prepared opening remarks. Volker also provided text messages among State Department officials documenting the effort to get Ukraine to launch investigations that President Trump wanted, which House Democrats released Thursday. In his opening remarks, Volker asserted that he did nothing wrong, insisting he wasn’t trying to bring about an investigation of the Bidens and that former Vice President Joe Biden was not a topic of discussion in his texts. He argued that the president’s focus on corruption was “understandable,” but “rooted in the past”:  “He said that Ukraine was a corrupt country, full of ‘terrible people.’ He said they ‘tried to take me down.’ In the course of that conversation, he referenced conversations with Mayor Giuliani. It was clear to me that despite the positive news and recommendations being conveyed by this official delegation about the new President, President Trump had a deeply rooted negative view on Ukraine rooted in the past. He was clearly receiving other information from other sources, including Mayor Giuliani, that was more negative, causing him to retain this negative view.” But while it is true that the name “Biden” is never mentioned in the texts, there is repeated discussion of Trump wanting an investigation into “Burisma,” the Ukrainian gas company Hunter Biden sat on the board of. Volker also mentions elsewhere in the opening statement that Giuliani did in fact mention “accusations about Vice President Biden” to him. more...

But the DOJ didn’t pick it up because the CIA’s referral came from a call, not in writing.
By Alex Ward - vox
The CIA’s top lawyer sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department based on the now-famous whistleblower’s complaint about President Donald Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine. And no, that lawyer isn’t some deep-state conspiracist out to thwart the president: She’s a Trump appointee. According to NBC News on Friday, CIA general counsel Courtney Simmons Elwood and another top official called the Justice Department on August 14 to make a criminal referral — weeks before the whistleblower complaint had become public. “On that call, Elwood and John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser to the White House National Security Council, told the top Justice Department national security lawyer, John Demers, that the allegations merited examination by the DOJ, officials said,” NBC News reports. The DOJ, however, reportedly didn’t consider that to be an official referral because it came in a call, not in writing. (This is important, as you’ll see in just a minute.) As such, the DOJ didn’t look any further into the allegations that Elwood was so concerned about. In other words, they dropped it. The Justice Department would eventually look into the allegations made in the whistleblower complaint a bit later after receiving a different criminal referral, this one from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (and apparently in writing, luckily). That referral was “based solely on the whistleblower’s official written complaint.” This is a really important point, because, as NBC News explains, “Justice Department officials have said they only investigated the president’s Ukraine call for violations of campaign finance law because it was the only statute mentioned in the whistleblower’s complaint.” So DOJ looked into this whistleblower complaint and determined in September that there is no need for a full-blown criminal probe into Trump’s actions because that specific law — campaign finance — wasn’t broken, thus effectively closing the inquiry. Now here’s the kicker: The CIA’s criminal referral wasn’t about campaign finance law, according to NBC News. This means DOJ essentially ignored the CIA criminal referral — which apparently included concerns that other laws besides campaign finance law may have been broken — all because it was made over the phone. The episode calls into serious question just how thorough the Justice Department was when determining whether to start a formal investigation into the president’s actions on Ukraine. more...

By David Welna
At a news conference in Kyiv on Friday, Ukraine's newly appointed top prosecutor announced a sweeping review of past corruption investigations that had been either shut down or split up. Fifteen of those cases, according to an official press release, involve the founder of the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma. Former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter was appointed to Burisma's board in 2014, while his father was leading policy on Ukraine during the Obama administration. The audit of earlier corruption probes follows a promise Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made to President Trump in a July 25 phone conversation: that a new prosecutor general would look into the closing of an investigation into Burisma's practices. Ukraine might appear to be bowing to pressure from Trump, who lifted his previously unannounced two-month hold on nearly $400 million in security assistance for Ukraine on Sept. 11. Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department gave the green light for Congress to consider selling 150 Javelin anti-tank missiles worth nearly $40 million to Ukraine. Zelenskiy had mentioned his desire to acquire those weapons, which are intended to counter Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, in his phone call with Trump. more...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
Washington (CNN) - It seemed like every time you turned your TV on this week, Donald Trump was talking about Ukraine.
That's an exaggeration, but not much of one. Trump held court twice on Thursday -- once at a photo availability with the Finnish President and once in a more formal press briefing -- and then worked the media rope line outside the White House for more than 20 minutes Friday morning before heading to Walter Reed hospital. The President talking to the media is a good thing! For the media and the American public! But man oh man, is it a bad thing for this President -- especially as he tries to downplay the potential damage the ongoing impeachment inquiry in the House could do him.
Why? Because Trump has a habit of saying the quiet part out loud. Like on Thursday, when he said this about his desire for the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter: "Well I would think that if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the Bidens. It's a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens. Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine. So, I would say that President Zelensky, if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens." more...

CNN Political Director David Chalian analyzes a series of text messages between US diplomats and a senior Ukrainian aide in the first episode of "The Daily DC: Impeachment Watch" podcast. The text messages, which were released last night, show how a potential Ukrainian investigation into the 2016 election was linked to a desired meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump. Chalian is joined by CNN National Correspondent Athena Jones and New York Times White House Correspondent and CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman. more... Listen to the podcast here.
https://podcasts.cnn.net/embed/single/skin/s4vt1w/ex-us-diplomat-reveals.html

By Jeremy Herb and Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Washington (CNN)Text messages released on Thursday between US diplomats and a senior Ukrainian aide show how a potential Ukrainian investigation into the 2016 election was linked to a desired meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Donald Trump.  - The text messages, which were released by the House Intelligence Committee, underscore how Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was closely connected to US policy on Ukraine and was involved in setting up the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky, in which Trump also urged an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. They show how cognizant the Ukrainians were about the importance of the election investigation to Trump and Giuliani's role. On the morning of the call, in an exchange with a key adviser to the Ukrainian President, then-US Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker made clear that it was important to the White House that Zelensky convince Trump that an investigation into the 2016 election would happen. "Heard from the White House -- assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/'get to the bottom of what happened' in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington," Volker said via text to the Ukrainian adviser on the morning of July 25. Volker provided Congress with the text messages ahead of his closed-door congressional testimony on Thursday before three committees leading the House's impeachment inquiry into Trump and Ukraine. The messages released by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee add a new layer of detail to the whistleblower complaint that prompted the impeachment inquiry, which alleged that Trump had urged the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on his political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. That Trump wanted an investigation was a message that seemed to register with the Ukrainian administration. Volker and the Ukrainian adviser, Andrey Yermak, continued to text after the call about Zelensky making a public statement ahead of a meeting between the two leaders. "I think potus really wants the deliverable," US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland texted Volker on August 9, as the two were talking about possible dates for a meeting. "Once we have a date, will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the US-UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations," Yermak wrote to Volker the following day. Ukrainians drafted statement about starting investigation: A source familiar with the matter tells CNN that the Ukrainian government wrote the initial draft of a statement for public release, committing to pursue investigations of corruption. The source told CNN that the Ukrainians drafted the statement to demonstrate to Trump and Giuliani, who they knew had influence with Trump, that there was a new team in Ukraine with Zelensky that was committed to cleaning up corruption. The statement was shared with Volker and Sondland, who then shared it with Giuliani, according to the source. Giuliani told Volker that it did not go far enough and suggested inserting references to pursuing probes of Burisma and the 2016 election, although it did not mention the Bidens. Burisma is the Ukrainian company that hired Hunter Biden to be on its board. Volker and Sondland then exchanged text messages about the draft, which Volker said he would share with an adviser to Zelensky. The Ukrainians told Volker they were not comfortable with the suggested statement, and the matter was ultimately dropped while a meeting between Zelensky and Trump continued to be pursued, the source said. The source explained the context of the statement about the investigation after the discussion was included in the text messages provided to Congress ahead of Volker's testimony. Giuliani told CNN after The New York Times first reported the existence of the statement that he "never saw it or even draft of it." "This is their testimony if it is and not part of my role," he texted. "They have to explain it. Lots of things going on I didn't know about." 'it's crazy to withhold security assistance' more...

By Eugene Kiely, Lori Robertson and D'Angelo Gore
President Donald Trump’s request that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, has triggered an impeachment inquiry. Since then, the president has made a series of inaccurate claims about his phone call with Zelensky, which he calls “perfect.” Here are some of the claims the president has made over the past two days about the phone call and the whistleblower’s complaint, which included an accurate account of the phone call: The president wrongly claimed that Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified that Trump’s phone call with Zelensky was “very normal.” Maguire did not characterize the phone call in his testimony before the House intelligence committee. Trump falsely claimed that a White House-released memo on his July 25 phone call with Zelensky was “an exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation … taken by very talented stenographers.” The memo includes a “caution” note saying it “is not a verbatim transcript.” Trump said that “the whistleblower never saw the conversation” and “wrote something that was total fiction.” The whistleblower said he received “a readout of the call,” and Maguire said the complaint is consistent with a White House memo of the call. (Trump also wrongly denied that Maguire found the two consistent.) Trump claimed that Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell “put out a statement that said that was the most innocent phone call he’s read.” McConnell said it wasn’t an impeachable offense, but did not describe the call as “innocent.” Trump also claimed that Sen. Rick Scott of Florida described the call as “a perfect conversation.” Scott didn’t use those words, but like McConnell he said he didn’t see the call as an impeachable offense. Maguire: Complaint ‘in Alignment’ with Memo: On Aug. 12, an anonymous intelligence community official filed a whistleblower complaint accusing the president of “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” The complaint included a description of a July 25 phone call that Trump made to Zelensky, who was elected the president of Ukraine on April 21. On the call, “the President pressured Mr. Zelenskyy to … initiate or continue an investigation into the activities of former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden,” and assist a U.S. review of allegations that the “Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election originated in Ukraine,” according to the whistleblower’s complaint. Trump asked Zelensky to “meet or speak with two people the President named explicitly as his personal envoys on these matters, Mr. [Rudy] Giuliani and Attorney General [William] Barr,” the complaint said. That description was confirmed by a memo of the call, which the White House released on Sept. 25. more...

By Philip Ewing
President Trump demanded on Friday that the full House must vote on Democrats' impeachment inquiry, arguing that he needn't further comply with Congress' requests until it does. Trump told reporters at the White House that he's sending a letter to that effect to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. He suggested his accommodation of congressional requests from this point forward might depend on her response. "The lawyers say they've never seen anything so unfair," Trump said. "The lawyers say they've never seen anything so unjust." The White House contends that for impeachment to be legitimate, all members in the chambers must have a chance to support or oppose it. So far, although Pelosi has declared that an "impeachment inquiry" is underway, the full House has not yet voted to launch one. The House does not need a vote in order for lawmakers to conduct an impeachment investigation, but a vote could give Republicans more power in the Democratic-led inquiry. It would also force lawmakers in both parties to go on the record for or against the inquiry as headlines fly thick and fast about the Ukraine affair. While Republicans so far oppose the impeachment investigation, some GOP lawmakers have said the Ukraine allegations are worthy of an investigation and they could also face a tough choice if put to a vote by the full House. Some moderate Democrats have yet to take a position. Trump was also asked Friday whether he'd go along with the prospect of Democrats' subpoenas for documents or other materials as they look into his administration's dealings with Ukraine. "I don't know, that's up to the lawyers," he said. The president has gone back and forth about what he'll release or how transparent he says the administration might be. His announcement about his letter of protest to Pelosi on Friday suggested that he might now consider the gate closed until Congress acts. When does impeachment become impeachment. Democrats, led initially by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York, argue that they've been acting on impeachment business for months. Nadler has said as much in his hearings, and attorneys for House Democrats also have invoked impeachment in their separate legal contests with attorneys for Trump over documents and witnesses. Pelosi said on Wednesday that there is no need for a full House vote. Trump's demand represented the latest tactical skirmish within the broader political war over impeachment, which has sucked all the oxygen out of official Washington and largely sidelined all other business between the administration and Congress. Trump and Pelosi both have said, at different times, they thought Washington should still attempt to negotiate over other legislation — potentially involving prescription drug costs or new gun restrictions — but for now the shadow of impeachment seems to have blotted out nearly everything else in the capital. Trump's challenge also is an attempt to force Pelosi to truly test which of her moderate members, some of whom were elected last year in districts that Trump carried in 2016, are prepared to go on record in support of impeachment. "Most of them, many of them, don't believe they should do it," Trump said on Friday. The president said that if Democrats move ahead, "I really believe they're going to pay a tremendous price at the polls." more...

New revelations emerge in Trump impeachment inquiry
CNN - CNN's Anderson Cooper breaks down the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. more...

By Juliegrace Brufke
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shot down House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) call for Democrats to suspend the impeachment inquiry, noting in a written response that President Trump hours earlier had publicly asked China to investigate one of his political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden. “As you know, our Founders were specifically intent on ensuring that foreign entities did not undermine the integrity of our elections," Pelosi wrote to McCarthy. "I received your letter this morning shortly after the world witnessed President Trump on national television asking yet another foreign power to interfere in the upcoming 2020 elections,” she continued. “We hope you and other Republicans share our commitment to following the facts, upholding the Constitution, protecting our national security, and defending the integrity of our elections at such a serious moment in our nation’s history.” Pelosi also wrote in her letter that there is not a requirement under the Constitution or House rules, or under House precedent, that the House hold a vote before proceeding with an impeachment inquiry. McCarthy earlier on Thursday had argued the inquiry should not move forward without members establishing “equitable rules and procedures.” “I should hope that if such an extraordinary step were to be contemplated a fourth time it would be conducted with an eye towards fairness, objectivity, and impartiality. Unfortunately, you have given no clear indication as to how your impeachment inquiry will proceed — including whether key historical precedents or basic standards of due process will be observed,” he wrote. more...

By Jordain Carney
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Friday broke sharply with President Trump's call for China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, calling it "wrong and appalling." "When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated," Romney said in a statement, which he also tweeted out.  The day before, Trump floated to reporters outside of the White House that the two countries should probe Biden, the Democratic 2020 front-runner, and his son, Hunter Biden, even as House Democrats work on an impeachment inquiry centered on allegations that Trump sought to withhold aid to Ukraine as an effort to get Kiev to launch a probe. "China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said in front of cameras on the South Lawn. The president added that he had not explicitly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to open such a probe, but that it’s “certainly something we can start thinking about.” Most Republicans, who are currently scattered across the country for a two-week recess, have remained silent on Trump publicly suggesting that foreign governments investigate a potential 2020 rival.  But Romney is part of a small group of Republicans who have spoken out this week, though none have backed the impeachment inquiry against Trump. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), in a statement on Thursday night, said "Americans don’t look to Chinese commies for the truth," while also knocking House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) for running a "partisan clown show in the House." more...

Trump promised Xi US silence on Hong Kong democracy protests as trade talks stalled
By Jim Sciutto, Gloria Borger and Jeremy Diamond, CNN
(CNN) - During a private phone call in June, President Donald Trump promised Chinese President Xi Jinping that the US would remain quiet on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong while trade talks continued, two sources familiar with knowledge of the call tell CNN. The remarkable pledge to the Chinese leader is a dramatic departure from decades of US support for human rights in China and shows just how eager Trump is to strike a deal with Beijing as the trade war weighs on the US economy. And like other calls with the leaders of Ukraine, Russia and Saudi Arabia, records of Trump's call with Xi were moved to a highly-classified, codeword-protected system, greatly limiting the number of administration officials who were aware of the conversation. Trump's commitment to China had immediate and far-reaching effects throughout the US government as the President's message was sent far and wide. In June, the State Department told then-US general counsel in Hong Kong, Kurt Tong, to cancel a planned speech on the protests in Washington because the President had promised Xi no one from the administration would talk about the issue. Tong was also slated to speak at a Washington-based think tank in early July but the State Department asked for that event to be canceled as well. That speech was ultimately rescheduled for after Tong's scheduled retirement later that month meaning he eventually had the opportunity to speak about Hong Kong but as a former official. The Financial Times first reported some details of the President's commitment. At the time, reporters asked State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus if Tong was barred from making a tough speech after Trump and Xi's trade truce during the G20 summit. "I believe that that was based off of anonymous reports, and that's not something that we ever validate here at the State Department. I don't see much truth to that," she responded. more...

Three reasons to impeach Trump.

(CNN) - Three House committees released documents and text messages provided by former American Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker on Thursday. Read the full document and text exchanges here: more...

By Grace Segers, Kathryn Watson, Stefan Becket
Washington -- The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry released a trove of messages provided by the former special envoy to Ukraine who resigned abruptly last week. The messages show a concerted effort by U.S. diplomats to get the Ukrainian government to commit to opening investigations that would benefit President Trump politically. On Thursday, the president suggested China and Ukraine should open investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden, stating publicly what he is accused of insinuating on the July call with the Ukrainian president at the center of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. "I would say, President Zelensky, if it was me, I would start an investigation into the Bidens," he said, referring to the Ukrainian leader. Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn on Thursday, Mr. Trump also said the Chinese president may want to investigate Biden and his son. "Clearly it's something we should start thinking about," he said. Also on Thursday, the Pentagon said it had begun in June to release $250 million in Ukraine aid approved by Congress, but in late July, on July 25 or 26, the White House Office of Management and Budget ordered a pause in the disbursement of those funds. Mr. Trump's conversation with Zelensky took place on July 25. Trump insists his requests for foreign countries to investigate Biden has "nothing to do with politics" 8:30 a.m.: In a tweet on Friday morning, Mr. Trump reiterated the claim that he has the right as president to ask foreign leaders to investigate "corruption," referring to his requests for Ukraine and China to probe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. "As President I have an obligation to end CORRUPTION, even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries. It is done all the time. This has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens. This does have to do with their corruption!" Mr. Trump said. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by either Biden in Ukraine or China. more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump's aggressive new strategy to thwart the Democrats' impeachment offensive is already sinking under the weight of new revelations. Trump tried to turn the tide Thursday, after struggling to counter the core Democratic argument that he had abused his power to hurt a political rival, Joe Biden, including staging a remarkable photo op in which he effectively asked China, America's rising geopolitical rival for global power, to help him win in 2020. But an avalanche of disclosures about his administration's previous attempts to enlist Ukraine in his effort to smear Biden showed his White House is failing to contain a crisis that is threatening his presidency. Perhaps the biggest problem for Trump is the release of text messages provided by his former special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who gave a deposition on Capitol Hill. The texts include a key message from Volker to a Ukrainian aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky, sent just before the infamous July 25 call at the center of the impeachment probe, which lays out how an investigation into Trump's political interests could help assure a meeting between the two presidents. The unveiling of the text messages threatens to undermine one of the President and his supporters' key defenses: that there was no quid pro quo when Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter. Trump's seeming obsession with undermining Biden's campaign may also present problems for him on the other side of the globe. In addition to Trump publicly asking the Chinese to investigate the Bidens, CNN reported Thursday that Trump had brought up Biden and his political prospects to Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call back in June. The disclosure was the latest sign that the President was using his constitutional leeway to set foreign policy in order to advance his own political interests. The gambit threatened to introduce a new conflict of interest into talks to ease the President's trade war with China. But on a deeper level it raised questions about Trump's willingness to embrace foreign intervention in US politics -- a possibility that haunted America's founders as they contemplated the shape of a new republic more than two centuries ago. Before the latest breaking developments, the President had sought to combat the perception that he had secretly attempted to get a foreign power to intervene in US politics. But then he appeared on the South Lawn of the White House to take another shot at Biden and to say that both Ukraine and China should investigate his potential 2020 foe, and then later tweeted that he had the "absolute right" to do so. It was a brazen yet quintessentially Trumpian response to his crisis. The President has spent days, unusually, struggling to switch a damaging political narrative triggered by evidence that he pressured a foreign nation to target a political opponent in an apparent abuse of power. more...

House Democrats released the messages that were turned over by former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker amid impeachment inquiry.
By Josh Lederman1
WASHINGTON — Text messages given to Congress show U.S. ambassadors working to persuade Ukraine to publicly commit to investigating President Donald Trump’s political opponents and explicitly linking the inquiry to whether Ukraine’s president would be granted an official White House visit. The two ambassadors, both Trump picks, went so far as to draft language for what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy should say, the texts indicate. The messages, released Thursday by House Democrats conducting an impeachment inquiry, show the ambassadors coordinating with both Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and a top Zelenskiy aide. At one point, a diplomat quoted in the texts even expresses alarm that the Trump administration is conditioning the visit and military aid on an investigation of political opponents, saying the linkage is "crazy." The messages offer the fullest picture to date of how top diplomats and Giuliani sought to advance Trump’s goal of getting the Ukrainians to investigate both meddling in the 2016 election and Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. “Heard from White House – assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for a visit to Washington,” former U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker wrote to the top Zelenskiy aide on July 25, just before Trump spoke by phone to Zelenskiy. That phone call led a U.S. intelligence official to file a whistleblower complaint that set off a cascade of fast-moving events, ultimately leading to an impeachment inquiry into the president. Volker resigned amid the tumult. He provided a deposition Thursday at the Capitol, which included the text messages. Volker and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland — both political appointees — repeatedly stressed the need to get the Ukrainians to agree to the exact language that Zelenskiy would use in announcing an investigation, the texts indicate. In August, Volker proposed to Sondland that they give Zelenskiy a statement to utter at a news conference citing “alleged involvement of some Ukrainian politicians” in interference in U.S. elections. “We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes, including those involving Burisma and the 2016 U.S. elections,” Volker and Sondland agreed that the Ukrainian president should say. Zelenskiy never did make the statement. more...

By Franco Ordoñez, Susan Davis
Republicans who support President Trump say the next three weeks are crucial to determine whether Trump can keep Republicans united behind him or if emerging cracks break open even wider. Their growing concern is that the White House is not acting with enough urgency to combat the whistleblower fight. They're calling for a more coordinated but also direct and aggressive strategy, similar to the one used when Republicans defended Brett Kavanaugh when Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court. "It's not like you have all this time for this to unfold. You've got to be ready for battle right now," said Scott Jennings, who was subpoenaed by the Senate when he worked for Republican George W. Bush and is close to the White House. "That's why I was comparing it to Kavanaugh. That was a short fight. You know, it happened over a period of weeks. Democrats had their message. They fired their shots. The Republicans were organized. They fired back. And so to me that's really the template here." Trump has been lashing out at Democrats and reporters, as Republicans have struggled to defend the president for encouraging the Ukrainian government to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential 2020 rival. A senior Senate GOP aide expressed confidence that, as it stands, Senate Republicans do not believe Trump's July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president unto itself is an impeachable offense. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity to be able to speak freely about strategy and expectations. At the same time, the aide said there's a realization that this is a volatile, unpredictable political conflict. And there have been "zero" efforts to coordinate messaging with the White House or each other, the aide said. "Everyone is waiting for the next shoe to drop," the aide said. The White House has dismissed the need for a war room like the one former President Bill Clinton created in the 1990s during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. more...

Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
The country is just over a week into the formal impeachment inquiry launched by Democrats in response to a whistleblower complaint against President Donald Trump and there's a lot we still don't know about the situation. House Democrats are attempting to uncover more information about Trump's alleged promises to Ukraine in return for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Here are the unanswered questions about the Ukraine controversy and the attempt to impeach Trump: When will the House vote on impeachment? In order for a Senate impeachment trial to take place, the House of Representatives must agree to draw up articles of impeachment, or a list of presidential offenses. This requires the votes of at least 218 Congressmembers. Some lawmakers have said they hope the House will decide on the articles of impeachment by Thanksgiving. And while Pelosi has said she wants the impeachment inquiry to move, "expeditiously," in reality the process could take months before it comes to a vote. It's hard to know when the House will conduct a vote, in part because of the efforts Trump administration officials may exert to combat the impeachment inquiry. Congressional committees scheduled depositions and a hearing with a handful of officials who may have knowledge of the Ukraine situation even as Congress is scheduled for a two-week recess. Democrats accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of "stonewalling" the investigation after he said he would fight requests to depose State Department workers. Pompeo called the deposition requests "an attempt to intimidate, bully and treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State." Trump has also threatened litigation against his political opponents. Who is the whistleblower? more...

Just months after Trump’s inauguration, conspiracy theorists pushed a fanciful and unsubstantiated narrative in which the DNC framed Russia for election interference.
By Ben Collins
An anonymous post from March 2017 on the far-right 4chan message board teased a conspiracy theory that would eventually make its way to the White House. “Russia could not have been the source of leaked Democrat emails released by Wikileaks,” the post teased, not citing any evidence for the assertion. The post baselessly insinuated that CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm that worked with the Democratic National Committee and had been contracted to investigate a hack of its servers, fabricated a forensics report to frame Russia for election interference. The 4chan post was published three days before then-FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election. And that was how it started. That post is the first known written evidence of this unfounded conspiracy theory to exonerate Russia from meddling in the 2016 election, which more than two years later would make its way into the telephone call that may get President Donald Trump impeached. (Federal law enforcement officials have repeatedly made it clear that Russia unquestionably did meddle in the election.) In the years that followed the original 4chan post, at least three different but related conspiracy theories would warp and combine on the fringes of the internet, eventually coalescing around Ukraine’s supposed role in helping Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton. Ukraine wasn’t originally part of the theory, but in July, Trump floated CrowdStrike’s name during a call with the president of Ukraine as just one piece of a convoluted conspiracy accusation. That phone call is now at the center of a congressional investigation and impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his power for political gain. “I would like to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … ” Trump said on the call, according to a White House summary. “I guess you have one of your wealthy people. ... The server, they say Ukraine has it.” To even people who have followed these theories closely, Trump’s call felt detached from any sense of logic. “It’s a whole new mountain of nonsense,” said Duncan Campbell, a British digital forensics expert who investigated the original claim about CrowdStrike. This omnibus conspiracy theory has been frequently referred to on far-right blogs, Fox News and recently by the president as the Democrats’ “insurance policy,” a reference to the supposed setup as a way to impeach the president if Trump were to win the election. Though all the individual theories have been debunked, each has contributed elements that have been cited by the president, as well as his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Beginning months after Trump’s inauguration, conspiracy theorists have pushed this fanciful and unsubstantiated narrative in which the Democratic National Committee framed Russia for its election interference in 2016 and later covered up its false accusation with help from then-Vice President Joe Biden and officials in Ukraine. In the conspiracy theory, impeachment proceedings recently pursued by House Democrats were always the DNC’s endgame, effectively a cash-out on the “insurance policy.” Trump has repeatedly referred to the “insurance policy” by name in tweets and in remarks on the White House’s South Lawn. more...

By Manu Raju, Jeremy Herb and Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Washington (CNN)The former US special envoy for Ukraine told House investigators that he urged Ukraine's leadership not to interfere in US politics in a conversation that followed the phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky, according to two sources familiar with the testimony. Kurt Volker's testimony behind closed doors seems to confirm the whistleblower description in the complaint that Volker and another US diplomat "provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to 'navigate' the demands that the President made." Volker appeared Thursday before three committees that are investigating allegations made by a whistleblower that the President sought Ukraine's assistance digging up dirt on his political rival and then the White House tried to cover it up. In the interview, Volker told lawmakers that the Ukrainian government had a lot of questions about why the military aid was being held up and he did not have a good explanation, according to the sources describing the testimony. Volker also testified that the Ukrainian government was concerned that a meeting with the Ukrainians and Trump was being put on hold but did not understand the reason. The meeting was important to Zelensky, who pushed to come to Washington on the July 25 call. According to the rough transcript, the President responds first that he will have Attorney General William Barr and Rudy Giuliani get in touch and then says: "Whenever you would like to come to the White House, feel free to call. Give us a date and we'll work that out. I look forward to seeing you." But the meeting never happened. A planned meeting in Poland ended up being scrubbed because the President stayed in the United States to deal with a hurricane and he sent Vice President Mike Pence in his place. Volker also told congressional investigators that he raised concerns with Giuliani about using former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko as a source for information about the Bidens and other controversies, warning that Lutsenko was not credible. The Washington Post first reported Volker's testimony that he raised concerns to Giuliani about the credibility of his sources. Volker, who resigned one day after he was named in the release of the whistleblower report last week alleging Trump was using the power of the presidency to ask Ukraine to investigate the Bidens for political gain in the 2020 election. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. Republicans, however, said that Volker's testimony did not provide any evidence to support the Democrats' claims of impeachment. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, told reporters after leaving the interview that "not one thing" Volker said "aligns with the Democratic impeachment narrative." more...

Donald Trump's behavior with China and Joe Biden shows how much he depends on Americans being desensitized to his repeated ethics violations
Don't let Trump shape a new normal
By Lisa Gilbert - USA TODAY
The Ukraine scandal that unfolded with lightning speed has been stunning, and the ongoing revelations of corruption are even more so. Like a mafia don, President Donald Trump — having withheld nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine — put the squeeze on Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden. The pressure campaign spanned months and implicates Vice President Mike Pence's office, Attorney General William Barr and the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. But he didn’t stop there. Just Thursday, Trump casually referenced to reporters the need for yet another foreign power to look into the Bidens, China. In addition, on Monday, news broke that Trump pushed the Australian prime minister during a recent telephone call to help Barr gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Trump surely hopes will discredit former special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings. This was followed by the revelation that Barr also sought foreign assistance from British and Italian officials in investigating the Mueller report. And this is likely only just the beginning of the revelations to come. President Trump seems to think that if he keeps committing impeachable offenses, he can somehow normalize them and escape accountability. Yet in some ways, the barrage of news over the past week and a half has felt less shocking than it should have, because morally reprehensible, unethical and corrupt behavior is status quo for the Trump administration, and conflicts of interest, self-dealing and mobster tactics have become the new normal. When caught, Trump simply cranks up the spin machine, attacks his opponents and deflects attention by raising tariffs or rolling out another harsh immigration policy. And the country turns its attention to the next story. more...

Volker was mentioned in the whistleblower's complaint that led to Democrats' launching a formal impeachment inquiry.
By Rebecca Shabad and Alex Moe
WASHINGTON — Democratic and Republican lawmakers from three House committees questioned former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker on Thursday in a closed-door deposition as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Volker, who resigned last week after being named in the whistleblower complaint that lead to the inquiry, arrived on Capitol Hill just before 9 a.m. ET to testify in a classified setting before the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees. No Democrats who emerged from the deposition agreed to comment on it, with Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Gerry Connolly of Virginia repeatedly telling swarms of reporters "no comment." House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also came out and said that he wouldn’t comment on the testimony until it was over, though he slammed the president for publicly urging China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden on Thursday morning. Trump's July conversation with the Ukrainian president about Biden and the administration's subsequent response were the subject of the whistleblower complaint. "A president of the United States encouraging a foreign nation to interfere again to help his campaign by investigating a rival is a fundamental breach of the president's oath of office," Schiff told reporters. The whistleblower’s complaint alleged that Volker went to Kyiv to try to guide Ukraine officials on how to handle Trump’s demands for them to investigate the younger Biden's nearly five years as a member of the board that manages Ukraine's Burisma, a natural gas producer. Republicans who participated in Thursday's meeting, which lasted into the afternoon, were quick to respond. Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio was the first GOP lawmaker to react to Volker’s testimony, saying in a statement after the first hour of questioning that he doesn’t believe that Volker "advanced Schiff’s impeachment agenda." more...

Republican senators echoed Biden in urging Ukrainian president to reform prosecutor general's office
By Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, CNN
(CNN) - A newly unearthed letter from 2016 shows that Republican senators pushed for reforms to Ukraine's prosecutor general's office and judiciary, echoing calls then-Vice President Joe Biden made at the time. CNN's KFile found a February 2016 bipartisan letter signed by several Republican senators that urged then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to "press ahead with urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General's office and judiciary." The letter shows that addressing corruption in Ukraine's Prosecutor General's office had bipartisan support in the US and further undercuts a baseless attack made by President Donald Trump and his allies that Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire then Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin to stop investigations into a Ukrainian natural gas company that his son, Hunter Biden, sat on the board of. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden, nor is it clear whether Hunter was under investigation at all. Trump called the 2016 dismissal of the Ukrainian prosecutor "unfair" in his July 25 call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying, "A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved," according to the rough transcript of the phone call. The 2016 letter, sent by members of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, was signed by Republican Sens. Rob Portman, Mark Kirk and Ron Johnson, as well as Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Jeanne Shaheen, Chris Murphy, Sherrod Brown, and Richard Blumenthal and focused on longstanding issues of corruption in Ukraine and urged reforms of the government. "Succeeding in these reforms will show Russian President Vladimir Putin that an independent, transparent and democratic Ukraine can and will succeed," the letter reads. "It also offers a stark alternative to the authoritarianism and oligarchic cronyism prevalent in Russia. As such, we respectfully ask that you address the serious concerns raised by Minister Abromavičius. We similarly urge you to press ahead with urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General's Office and judiciary. The unanimous adoption by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Basic Principles and Action Plan is a good step." Kirk is no longer in Congress. But Johnson signed onto a letter with Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley last week to Attorney General Bill Barr asking him to investigate, in part, allegations surrounding Biden and Ukraine. Johnson's office did not respond to a request for comment. Portman's office did not comment. Ukraine's legislature voted to fire Shokin in March 2016, a month after the letter was sent. The letter was posted on the website of Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who in a tweet the same day expressed US support for anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine. "Ukraine's US friends stand w/#Ukraine in fight against corruption," Portman wrote. "Impt to continue progress progress made since #EuroMaidan." In December of 2015, in a speech to Ukraine's parliament, Biden made similar calls for changes to the judiciary and the General Prosecutor's office. "It's not enough to set up a new anti-corruption bureau and establish a special prosecutor fighting corruption," Biden said. "The Office of the General Prosecutor desperately needs reform. The judiciary should be overhauled." more...

A pair of GOP operatives who played major roles in Lewinsky-era political intrigue are back.
The Ukraine scandal engulfing Donald Trump’s presidency goes well beyond the core cast of characters at the heart of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. It’s now drawing in a duo familiar to anyone who has followed past Washington imbroglios: conservative lawyers and GOP operatives Joe diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing. And the scandal is beginning to reveal the opaque agendas of a pair of Ukrainian oligarchs whose legal troubles have led them to seek favors in Washington. DiGenova and Toensing, who played major roles in the Bill Clinton dramas of the 1990s and resurfaced amid Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, have signed up to represent Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian gas magnate who currently resides in Vienna pending extradition to the U.S. to face bribery charges. Last year, the married lawyers were briefly expected to formally join Trump’s legal team to defend him in the special counsel’s investigation, but those plans were quickly scrapped due to conflicts of interest with their existing clients. The couple resurfaced, however, working in conjunction with efforts by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to dig up dirt on former vice president Joe Biden. For Firtash — who is fighting extradition from Austria to the U.S. to face bribery charges — his involvement began at least as early as July, when he parted ways with Lanny Davis, the lawyer who guided Bill Clinton through a variety of investigations and now represents Michael Cohen, the former Trump fixer who confessed to tax evasion, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress, among other crimes. Firtash replaced Davis with Toensing and diGenova, a colorful and aggressive couple with a nose for scandal and skill at pushing a narrative through allies like John Solomon, the conservative columnist at the Hill who has been writing frequently about Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine and about Marie Yovanovitch, the veteran ambassador who was abruptly recalled in May amid attacks on her from Trump allies. DiGenova has gone on Fox News to attack Yovanovitch by name, claiming she had been privately telling others that the president was likely going to be impeached. more...

The 43 strangest lines from Donald Trump's bizarre press conference
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - The pressure and stress of the House's impeachment inquiry and ongoing questions about his conversations with the Ukrainian president seem to be getting to President Donald Trump. Otherwise, it's hard to explain his angry and raw press conference alongside the president of Finland on Wednesday. I went through the transcript and highlighted the lines you need to see. They're below. more...

By Judge Andrew P. Napolitano
The House of Representatives has begun to gather evidence in an effort to determine if President Trump has committed impeachable offenses. The Constitution defines an impeachable offense as "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." The president need not have committed a crime in order to be impeached, but he needs to have engaged in behavior that threatens the constitutional stability of the United States or the rule of law as we have come to know it. Has Trump committed any impeachable offenses? A CIA agent formerly assigned to the White House – and presently referred to as the "whistleblower" – reported a July 25, 2019 telephone conversation that Trump had with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. That conversation manifested both criminal and impeachable behavior. The criminal behavior to which Trump has admitted is much more grave than anything alleged or unearthed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and much of what Mueller revealed was impeachable. What has Trump admitted? The whistleblower’s revelation caused the White House to release a near-verbatim summary of the conversation between the two presidents. By releasing it, Trump has admitted to its accuracy. In it, Trump asked Zelensky for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, who at this writing is Trump's likely Democratic opponent in the 2020 presidential election. Trump also admits to holding up $391 million in aid to Ukraine – $250 million in the purchase of already approved and built military hardware and $141 million in a congressionally authorized grant. This is aid that Trump's own secretaries of state and defense, his own director of national intelligence and director of the CIA, and his own National Security Council unanimously asked him to release. Trump has also admitted to accusing the as-yet publicly unnamed whistleblower of treason, and suggesting that the whistleblower and those who have helped him are spies and ought to be treated as spies were in "the old days" (Trump’s phrase) – that is, by hanging. more...

By Michele Kelemen
On paper, Kurt Volker's job in the Trump administration was to support Ukraine and help end a war started by Russia in the east of the former Soviet Republic. Volker is now caught up in a political battle at home over President Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Volker will be deposed Thursday behind closed doors as part of the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Volker, 54, was a career diplomat who focused on Europe and was tapped by then-President George W. Bush in 2008 to serve as the U.S. ambassador to NATO, a position he held for less than a year. By the time Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and sent troops to foment an uprising in eastern Ukraine, Volker was out of government, running the McCain Institute, a think tank in Washington run by Arizona State University. He was critical of the Obama administration's approach to Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression. "The most frequent phrase you hear out of mouths now is there is no military solution, and I think we just have to reject that," he told NPR in a 2015 interview. "We are seeing a military solution play out before our eyes on the ground in Ukraine, and it happens to be one that we don't like. It's Putin's military solution." Volker returned to the State Department in July 2017 when he was tapped by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to serve as U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations. Andrew Weiss, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Volker was an unlikely fit in the Trump administration. "It was indicative of just how hard it was to get credentialed middle-of-the-road or right-of-center Republicans to serve in this administration," Weiss said. "So there was a real shortage of talented experienced people coming in. Kurt was one of the exceptions to that." Kurt was appointed with a specific role in mind, Weiss said: halting the conflict in eastern Ukraine. But that mandate broadened over time. "He ended up having a far wider portfolio that involved running U.S. policy on Ukraine writ large," Weiss said. more...

By Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – An aide to Vice President Mike Pence listened in on the phone call by the president that sparked an impeachment inquiry, the Washington Post reported in an article Wednesday that provides new details on Pence's involvement in the controversy. The report said President Donald Trump used Pence in his attempt to pressure the new Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, but is not conclusive on how much Pence knew about Trump's efforts. Pence's spokeswoman, Katie Waldman, dismissed the article as an attempt to "glorify a grand conspiracy being concocted by a select number of disgruntled former employees." Waldman said Pence's actions vindicate the administration by showing that Ukraine received military aid after Pence "directly and effectively delivered the president's anti-corruption and European burden sharing messages" to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a September meeting. But the vice president's office declined to comment on whether Pence's national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, listened to the Zelensky call.ffice declined to comment on whether Pence's national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, listened to the Zelensky call. House Democrats on Wednesday threatened to subpoena the White House if it doesn't turn over by Friday a host of documents that include any communication Pence's office had about the July call with Zelensky. Democrats also want information on Trump's decision not to send Pence to Zelensky's May inauguration and information on Pence's meeting with Zelensky during a trip to Poland in September. more...

A conspiracy theory about the "deep state" got shared widely by the president and his supporters.
By Bethania Palma
The intelligence community "secretly eliminated" a requirement that whistleblowers provide firsthand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings, allowing the complaint about Trump's dealings with Ukraine to be filed is a false claim made by Trump and conspiracy theorist. In September 2019, whistleblower allegations that U.S. President Donald Trump held back military aid to Ukraine in an effort to obtain damaging information on a political rival led to an impeachment inquiry and an ongoing scandal. It wouldn’t be the 2010s if the fallout didn’t include a conspiracy theory circulating in the right-wing media ecosystem. In this case, the conspiracy theory was given a major platform in the form of a tweet by Trump that his supporters widely shared: The claim originated on The Federalist website, which published a story on Sept. 27 that was not only inaccurate but played on the “deep state” conspiracy theory, an idea now popular among both fringe fanatics and White House officials alike. It posits that U.S. intelligence agencies are scheming against Trump. The Federalist story implied that the intelligence community changed existing rules so that the “anti-Trump complaint” could be filed on Aug. 12 using secondhand information. “Between May 2018 and August 2019, the intelligence community secretly eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers provide direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings,” The Federalist reported. more...

ABC News - The president called the impeachment inquiry a "coup" and demanded to interview the whistleblower as new documents on Ukraine are expected to be given to Congress. more... - Trump is willing to put someone’s life in jeopardy to protect himself. Trump may not care but it is the law you cannot go after whistleblowers. Trump has once again shows us he does care about our laws when it comes to himself.

By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – As the House and Senate intelligence committees prepare for hearings with the whistleblower who complained about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the negotiations focused attention on how Congress protects anonymous witnesses. The intelligence panels routinely hold closed meetings with unannounced witnesses. Other committees have accepted anonymous testimony about issues such as foreign affairs or drug use. In rare circumstances, steps to protect the witnesses included placing them behind screens and altering their voices electronically. Those steps aren’t foolproof: An IRS whistleblower ran into her supervisor on the way to a hearing and blew her cover. The stakes are high for the Ukraine whistleblower, whose career relies on anonymity and who fears retaliation. Trump has said he’s trying to identify the person. Andrew Bakaj, a former CIA officer who represents the whistleblower, tweeted Monday that the person “is entitled to anonymity. Law and policy support this and the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law.” The whistleblower’s complaint is at the heart of the impeachment investigation of Trump at the House of Representatives. The complaint filed Aug. 12 alleged Trump abused the power of his office when he urged Ukraine's president to gather dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's political rival. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced a formal impeachment investigation based on news reports about the complaint. The intelligence committees haven’t described how they will conduct the hearings. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the whistleblower’s lawyers need to obtain security clearances. Schiff voiced concerns on NBC’s "Meet the Press" on Sunday about congressional Republican contacts with the White House after Trump compared the sources who informed the whistleblower to spies. “This is serious business here,” Schiff said. The panel is determining the logistics “to do everything humanly possible” to protect the whistleblower’s identity, which is “our paramount concern here,” he said. more...

By Erin Banco
Two diplomatic figures named in the whistleblower complaint that’s at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump over his interactions with Ukraine’s president are slated to appear before Congress, The Daily Beast has learned. According to a senior Democratic aide, the State Department’s former special envoy for Ukraine—Kurt Volker—will appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday. Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was previously scheduled to appear before the committee Wednesday, but will now appear on Oct. 11. The State Department inspector general has also asked for an “urgent” briefing with congressional committees tomorrow. The whistleblower reportedly alleged that Volker was one of the officials attempting to “contain the damage” of the scandal by advising Ukrainians on how to handle the requests of Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani—who has publicly admitted to pushing for corruption investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. The whistleblower also reportedly claimed Yovanovitch was recalled to Washington earlier than expected because of “pressure” from then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, who had spoken to Giuliani about the investigations and “collusion.” more...

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